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Prevalence of High Blood Lead Level in Children Living in the Outskirt of Salvador, Brazil

José-Antonio, M*; Carla-Cucci, B; Inês, M

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000276423.23890.ff

*Federal University of Bahia, Brazil; †Fundação Monte Tabor, Hospital São Rafael, Brazil; and ‡National School of Public Health/FIOCRUZ, Brazil\yts26.


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To describe the blood lead levels (BLL) and the prevalence of high BLL (BLL ≥10μg/dL) among children living in a poor community in the outskirt of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

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Material and Methods:

This is a cross-sectional study with a nonrandom sampling (convenience) of 533 children aged 0 to 10 years of both gender living in the Sanitary District of Pau da Lima in March 1997. Blood lead determinations was performed by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS) with Zeeman background correction. Zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) was measured by hematofluorometric method. BLL distribution was analyzed according to sex, age, presence of anemia, and socioeconomic status (SES). Its correlation with age, hemoglobin levels, and ZPP was investigated. Possible associations of high BLL and the study variables were evaluated.

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The mean BLL was higher (P = 0.005) in children of low SES (6.13 ± 3.626 μg/dL) than in the other group (4.41 ± 2.805 μg/dL). Children of low SES had a larger risk estimate of high BLL (prevalence ratio = 2.54, 95% CI: 1.33–4.96) when compared with children of better SES.

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An association was observed between high BLL in children and low SES; it is likely due to a more straight contact with the soil. Children of low SES have been shown to have more iron deficiency; this fact could contribute to a greater lead uptake from the intestinal tract.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.